German/Level I/Volk und Familie

Lesson I.8: Familie und Nationalität

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Hello from Berlin!




Banks and Money


Germany's main banks are Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank and Commerzbank. There are many banks of all kinds throughout the country. Banks are open Mon-Fri 9am-12pm and 2:30-4pm. On Thursdays, they are open until 5:30 or 6pm. Changing money is best done at a bank because their rates will be better than exchange services located at a Bureau de Change. Major post office branches and travel agents also offer currency exchange. Germany is one of 15 European countries that have replaced their national currencies with the Euro, which is stronger to the U.S. Dollar, but weaker than the British Pound.


Dialogue:   Visiting Family —   Familie besuchen
Vater, Mutter und die Geschwister bekommen Besuch von Oma und Opa
Vater Karl Hallo Mama, Hallo Papa! Wie geht es euch?
Opa Rudolf Na mein Enkel, du bist ja richtig groß geworden!
Oma Lisa Mir geht's gut. Ich gehe zum Kurfürstendamm. Möchtet ihr mit mir kommen?
Sohn Thomas Ja, Opa, ich weiß.
Tochter Marie Oma! Hast du uns etwas mitgebracht?
Mutter Bettina Nun sei nicht so aufgeregt Marie, lass Oma und Opa erst einmal hereinkommen.
kurze Zeit später, die Geschenke wurden schon ausgepackt...
Tochter Marie Mutti! Thomas nimmt mir immer meine Puppe weg.
Mutter Bettina Thomas! Du sollst deiner Schwester nicht ihre Puppe wegnehmen.
Sohn Thomas Nein, das ist meine Puppe.
Mutter Bettina Nein. Die Puppe gehört deiner Schwester.
Sohn Thomas Gut, hier hast du die Puppe...
Mutter Bettina Und bedanke dich bei deinen Großeltern, Marie.



The Family


Home is where the heart is, they say. And what is in the home? Family! of course, so this is a very important section of the lesson. It'll give all vocabulary for the family, and later in a different section, you'll learn how to describe your brothers and sisters or any person! And now to get started let's do some vocabulary...

Vocabulary:   The Family —   Die Familie
English German
Son der Sohn, die Söhne (plural)
Daughter die Tochter, die Töchter
Father der Vater, die Väter
Mother die Mutter, die Mütter
Dad der Papa (informal), der Vati/der Papi (informal)
Mum die Mama (informal), die Mutti/die Mami (informal)
Grandfather der Großvater, die Großväter
Grandmother die Großmutter, die Großmütter
Grandpa der Opa, die Opas
Grandma die Oma, die Omas
Sister die Schwester, die Schwestern
Stepsister die Stiefschwester, die Stiefschwestern
Brother der Bruder, die Brüder
Stepbrother der Stiefbruder, die Stiefbrüder
Siblings die Geschwister
Stepbrothers and stepsisters die Stiefgeschwister (kein Singular)
Grandson der Enkel/der Enkelsohn, die Enkelsöhne
Granddaughter die Enkelin, die Enkelinnen
Wife die Ehefrau, die Frau (informal), die Gattin (formal)
Husband der Ehemann, der Mann (informal), der Gatte (formal)
Father-in-law der Schwiegervater
Mother-in-law die Schwiegermutter
Brother-in-law der Schwager, die Schwäger
Sister-in-law die Schwägerin, die Schwägerinnen
Son-in-law der Schwiegersohn, die Schwiegersöhne
Daughter-in-law die Schwiegertochter, die Schwiegertöchter
Uncle der Onkel, die Onkel
Aunt die Tante, die Tanten

Now even though many of these are common phrases you and I would say in everyday life, some of these are rather used when you are on a visit to grandmother's, or things your mother would say. Maybe you notice some of these in the dialogue. Now you might be asking "How am I going to speak fluent German, if I just learn phrases?" Like I said, these are basically from the dialogue, and you can study these to look at the word order. Also certain things are just different in German, like "Wie heißt du?" which translates literally to "How are you called?" when we use "What is your name?". Okay let's get started on these common phrases...

Du bist ja richtig groß geworden.

You have grown up so much (usual sentence used by Opa und Oma)

Hast du uns etwas mitgebracht?

Have you brought something for us? (usual sentence used by Enkel and Enkelin)

Nun sei nicht so aufgeregt.

Now don't be so excited.

Komm rein.

Come in.

(Sie) Wurden schon ausgepackt.

(They) Have already been opened.

(Sich) Bedanken für etwas.

To thank for something.

Using Formal and Informal Pronouns in the Family


Some very conservative families might still use Sie with grandparents or even parents! This is sometimes practiced in families of nobility or exterritorial cultural islands in which older German customs have survived. However, using "Sie" feels very outdated to the vast majority of people. In practically every family all members use du with each other.

Describing People


I can't describe in words how important this section of the lesson is. Even though you have already learned to describe to some degree, here we will introduce a new aspect of describing, and we will review. But how could we describe if we didn't have vocabulary? Here it is...

Vocabulary:   Describing People —   Leute beschreiben
English German
Nice nett, sympathisch
Mean unfreundlich, gemein
Nasty fies, gemein
Pretty schön
Ugly hässlich
Intelligent intelligent
Unintelligent unintelligent
Clever schlau, klug, clever
Stupid dumm/blöd/deppert (Austrian German)
Interesting interessant
Boring langweilig, fad (Austrian German)
Active rührig, aktiv
Lazy faul
Funny komisch, witzig
Serious ernst(haft)
Strong stark, kräftig
Weak schwach
Odd eigenartig
Talented begabt, talentiert
Untalented unbegabt, untalentiert
Bossy rechthaberisch
Passive untätig
Old alt
Young jung
Fat fett, dick
Skinny dünn
Tall groß
Short klein
Evil böse

The verb used most often for describing is "to be" which we learned in the first lesson. Some examples are: He is wet, This is stupid, I am lazy. But you do use other verbs like feel, look, etc. This lesson we will be sticking mostly with the verbs we've learned in the past. We will, however, learn one new verb. All sentences we will create will be in the nominative case. Okay, let's get started!

In term of beauty, you can say four basic things. These aren't the all but these are the easiest and simplest ones.

She is beautiful.

Sie ist schön.

He is ugly.

Er ist hässlich.

These two use the verb to be, and the next one will use the verb to look which would need something else in order to make sense.

She looks beautiful, but that shirt is ugly.

Sie sieht schön aus, aber dieses Hemd ist hässlich.

He looks ugly, but he looked handsome yesterday.

Er sieht hässlich aus, aber gestern sah er schön aus.

And in the last sentence it says "ausgesehen." Don't worry about that--it wouldn't be taught until Level 3. So since you get the idea of describing, let's learn a new verb! And the new verb is klingen which is to sound. As in "He sounds weird.", "She sounds boring." Since we know how to describe, we really don't have to cover it. It's works just like other verbs.

He sounds nice.

Er klingt nett.

They sound funny.

Sie klingen komisch.

Remember that when describing it's S+V+A, or subject, verb, then adjective. Exactly like in English. For right now, that's all for describing things. We are going to have some small describing lessons with some parts of this lesson.


Okay we just went over the verb in the previous section. This will basically be a list that will help you memorize them better, and there is not a lot. Other than "klingen" and "fühlen" you should know all of these. The "Er sieht aus" is to show you it is a separable-prefix verb.

Vocabulary:   Verbs —   Verben
English German
To be sein
To look aussehen, ausschauen (Austrian German)
He looks Er sieht aus
To feel (sich) fühlen
To sound klingen



This is also a large section of this lesson: nationality, and it's very important. There are many nationalities, too many to go over in this lesson, but you will learn more nationality as this level and book goes on. Right now we are just going to have a vague little list, and as this section goes on there will be more. Finally, gentlemen, get ready to have your minds blown...

Some Nationalities


This is the small list, make sure you memorize this list and the next one.

Vocabulary:   Nationalities —   Nationalitäten
English German
German(s) (masculine) der Deutsche, (m. plural) die Deutschen; (feminine) die Deutsche, (f. plural) die Deutschen
American(s) der Amerikaner, die Amerikaner; die Amerikanerin, die Amerikanerinnen
Englishman der Engländer, die Engländer; die Engländerin, die Engländerinnen
Spaniard(s) der Spanier, die Spanier; die Spanierin, die Spanierinnen
Italian(s) der Italiener, die Italiener; die Italienerin, die Italienerinnen
Frenchman der Franzose, die Franzosen; die Französin, die Französinnen

Describing People with Nationality


It is no surprise you can describe people with nationality, most times, it's stereotypical, like Norwegians are blonde, tall, etc. or Germans wear lederhosen, drink beer, and play polka all day long, but that is just not true. However you can just use it for what it is, a nationality. If you do describe people by nationality this will help. Okay, you should already know how to describe, right?

This part we will get more in to detail later, but right it is an important part of describing people with nationality, even though in English we most times don't do this, in German they do. The difference between nationality and language, like in English, French and French. But in German it is französisch and Franzose, Französin. This also is how it works for nationality describing by noun or adjective, which we are going to learn right now.

Noun or Adjective Nationality

There are two ways to describe someone. With a noun-based nationality word or an adjective-based nationality word. But note that in German the noun-based form is used more often.

Example: Ich bin Schwede (I am Swedish) and Ich bin schwedisch (I am Swedish)

Example: Ich bin Franzose (I am French) and Ich bin französisch (I am French)

More Nationalities


A longer list of nationalities found in and around Germany:

Vocabulary:   More Nationalities —   Mehr Nationalitäten
African (m.) Afrikaner (-); (f.) Afrikanerin (-nen)
Albanian Albaner (-); Albanerin (-nen)
Austrian Österreicher (-); Österreicherin (-nen)
Czech Tscheche (-n); Tschechin (-nen)
Chinese Chinese (-n); Chinesin (-nen)
Dane Däne (-n); Dänin (-nen)
Dutchman/woman Holländer (-); Holländerin (-nen)
Estonian Este (-n); Estin (-nen)
Finnish Finne (-n); Finnin (-nen)
Greek Grieche (-n); Griechin (-nen)
Hungarian Ungar (-n); Ungarin (nen)
Irish Ire (-n); Irin (-nen)
Indian Inder (-); Inderin (-nen)
Japanese Japaner (-); Japanerin (-nen)
Korean Koreaner (-); Koreanerin (-nen)
Latvian Lette (-n); Lettin (-nen)
Lithuanian Litauer (-); Litauerin (-nen)
Norwegian Norweger (-); Norwegerin (-nen)
Polish Pole (-n); Polin (-nen)
Romanian Rumäne (-n); Rumänin (-nen)
Russian Russe (-n); Russin (-nen)
Serbian Serbe (-n); Serbin (-nen)
Slovakian Slovake (-n); Slovakin (-nen)
Swede Schwede (-n); Schwedin (-nen)
Swiss Schweizer (-); Schweizerin (-nen)
Turkish Türke (-n); Türkin (-nen)
Ukrainian Ukrainer (-); Ukrainerin (-nen)

Now we are all familiar with the word "alt'", which means old. And in English, to find out somebody's age we ask "How old are you?". In German it is exactly the same. The "alt" kind of belongs to the interrogative adverb, so in both German and English it may be in front of the verb:

Wie alt bist du?

How old are you?

Now to ask the question with 1st person it is...

Wie alt bin ich?

How old am I?

And as response you might get...

Ich bin __ Jahre alt.

I am __ years old.

Du bist __ Jahre alt.

You are __ years old.

And now the plural version of the 1st person...

Wie alt sind wir?

How old are we?

The responses you will get is...

Wir sind __ Jahre alt.

We are __ years old.

Ihr seid __ Jahre alt.

You all are __ years old.

To ask this important question in the 2nd person. First, we will learn the biggest question here, "How old are you?" which is...

Wie alt bist du?

How old are you?

And there is only one response to this it is...

Ich bin __ Jahre alt.

I am __ years old.

For the equally important plural 2nd person...

Wie alt seid ihr?

How old are you all?

Which the response is...

Wir sind __ Jahre alt.

We are __ years old.

And formal question, for both singular and plural is...

Wie alt sind Sie?

How old are you?

How old are you all?

You should all ready get the pattern for this, but we are going to keep on doing this list, if you aren't sure of something or you are confused. So for the 3rd person...

Wie alt ist er/sie?

How old is he/she?

The responses to this are...

Er ist __ Jahre alt.

He is __ years old.

Sie ist __ Jahre alt.

She is __ years old.

And now the plural 3rd person of question and response...

Wie alt sind sie?

How old are they?

And of course the response...

Sie sind __ Jahre alt.

They __ years old.

Now with some people you might be able to guess their age, and you could ask them directly about it. This is usually pretty of rude, but it illustrates nicely how the phrase has to be changed if you ask a yes-no-question, so let's get started, anyway!

Bist du __ Jahre alt?

Are you __ years old?

Ist er/sie __ Jahre alt?

Is he/she __ years old?

Sind sie __ Jahre alt?

Are they __ years old?

Note the inversed order between "Wie alt bist du?" und "Bist du __ Jahre alt?" This is exactly the same as in English!


Person Singular Plural
English German English German
1st my mein our unser
2nd your dein, Ihr your euer, Ihr
3rd his, her, its sein, ihr, sein their ihr

Note: 'Euer' is irregular. When 'euer' has to have a different ending the e before r is dropped, so it turns into 'eur-'.

Gender, Case, and Endings


Expressing Favorites


Problems >>

(edit template)   Level I Lessons (discussion)

  I.0 Introduction

Section I.A:   I.1 Wie heißt du? (1. Teil)  I.2 Wie heißt du? (2. Teil)  I.3 Bitte buchstabieren Sie  Review Section I.A

Section I.B:   I.4 Freizeit  I.5 Geburtstag  I.6 Essen  Review Section I.B

Section I.C:   I.7 Kleidung  I.8 Familie und Nationalität  I.9 Schule  Review Section I.C

Section I.D:   I.10 Das Fest  I.11 Privileg und Verantwortung  I.12 Wetter  Review Section I.D

Section I.E:   I.13 Zu Hause essen  I.14 Filme  I.15 Das Haus  Review Section I.E